Martin Pasko: Actually, The Postman Never Rings At All
When I was a little kid, the original The Fly scared the crap out of me. Then, later, when I wrote the Star Trek and Justice League franchises in comics, I felt a morbid and uneasy fascination with the transporter idea, which I’d always thought had a greater potential for disaster than deliverance. But I never did much with it, because my early Vincent Price-induced trauma left me with zero interest in writing about steaming piles of misshapen, dying flesh. So I never thought I’d see the day when I’d write these words:
We need teleportation. Badly. And we need it now.
Why am I bending your digital ear with this?
Well, another day I never thought I’d see is the one when the number of Americans who self-identify as Geeks would outnumber Americans who give a flying rat’s ass about what happens to the US Postal Service.
The great irony of this is that many of the people who stand to lose big-time if the USPS achieves its goal of total self-annihilation are Geeks.
If this painfully slowly-approaching disaster isn’t averted, no amount of muscular adblockers will be able to Improve Your eBay Experience. And there are still some comics publishers who don’t drop-ship everything from Canada by courier service. Moreover, there still exist certain types of vendors who think DHL is an even bigger nightmare than the postal system, and a few pesky creative dinosaurs who still have the temerity to expect payment for entertaining you. And they expect it from Accounting Departments who are already resentful enough as it is about having to generate all those 1099s at year’s end. Which is why their indulgent bosses reward them for never, ever suggesting that Talent can be paid via Direct Deposit, which is obviously evil and irresponsible, in addition to being too much trouble, because that’s how the government that needs to be shrunk in the bathtub now pays The 47% all that social safety net money they don’t deserve and which is obviously a Socialist plot.
All these nice folk will feel like they live in an even more dystopian alternate universe than they already occupy if those little paper things that are redeemable for cash and prizes stop showing up in their cobweb-infested mail boxes.
Yes, I know you know what “going postal” means. But you may not be old enough to remember why, despite the fact that many local P.O.s are named after famous people living or dead, there’s no such thing as a David Berkowitz Post Office. Which is why you may be blissfully unaware that you’re not getting half your mail because your letter carriers’ dogs talk to them and tell them what they should do with it instead of delivering it.
For you, USPS’ headlong rush to make the case for its own irrelevancy to modern life might have a greater significance, so it is my duty to helpfully call it to your attention.
In the interest of appropriate full disclosure, I should add that I’m uniquely qualified to talk about the USPS on a site that’s supposed to be about comics, and not just from having been tortured by them through a few decades as a freelancer (an old girlfriend once got so tired of hearing me bitch about the horrors they visited on me, she nicknamed me BMK, which stood for Bad Mail Karma).
Oh, no. There’s more. You see, I was once involved in creating comic books FOR the USPS, which was a little trip through Pinhead’s Lament Configuration all by itself.
Have I hooked you? Good. Then maybe you’ll come back here for that story next week. I mean, maybe you’ll deign to sample this column again. In spite of everything.
Because in that tale – from the ‘90s, mind you – lies an insight into the monumental and long-customary – and therefore ineluctably irreparable – bureaucratic ineptitude that will inevitably result in USPS’s demise. This, despite a Congress that, while having done nothing else of substance, has managed to reinstate the possibility of its remote mail centers receiving Ricin-laced envelopes on Saturdays.
Hmm. The dogs I live with are barking. That must mean the mailmoron’s here. But that’s impossible. It’s not even dark yet. Must be a new person on this route. Excuse me while I go peer out at him or her suspiciously through the venetian blinds, like one of those crazy old people who’s about to run outside waving a broom to shoo the neighborhood kids out of the driveway. That’ll inspire continued excellent service, I’m sure.
The mailmoron has just delivered six pieces of mail, only four of which are for people who don’t live here. Plus, unlike her predecessor, she actually noticed the large banker’s box under the mailbox. The one with the sign on it reading, in 72-point type, outgoing mail. Which means she actually took the prepaid packages and stamped letters that have been sitting in it since Tuesday. And will do whatever her dog tells her to do with them.
I never thought I’d see the day.
Next week: Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor gloom of night can possibly make anything worse.
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman